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Nueva Trova movement: A musical movement inspired by Cuban revolution

  • Published at 11:55 pm October 29th, 2019
Nueva Trova movement
Silvio Rodriguez was one of the pioneering singers of the movement | Wikipedia

The establishment of a new revolutionary identity in socialist Cuba, during the Fidel Castro regime, was represented through the music movement

In every corner of the world, music has always been a strong form of art to protest against wars, fascism, and cruelty. Musicians all over the world always come forward to support humanity, and they use their music and lyrics as a strong tool of protest. 

During the Liberation War of Bangladesh, patriotic songs provided a source of inspiration to the freedom fighters and a bound the entire nation together.

Later, in 1995, Tareque Masud and Catherine Masud made their critically acclaimed documentary "Muktir Gaan" on the travelling musicians who evoked the fighting spirit of the freedom fighters through their music.

Similarly, a new musical genre emerged in Cuba in the late 1960s and early '70s, as the Cuban government merged its social and political structures. Subsequently, that was the period when the movement called Nueva Trova Cubana surfaced.

The establishment of a new revolutionary identity in socialist Cuba, during the Fidel Castro regime, was represented through the music movement. Eventually, the musical style gained popularity across  Latin America. 

During Fidel Castro's rule in Cuba, various music styles, from singer-songwriters to dance music to hip-hop, emerged over the years as well.  

Origin of the "Trova" movement

Originally rooted in traditional trova, which is a style of popular Cuban music of the 19th century, this music style was created by traveling musicians known as "trovadores". Trovadores travelled around Cuba and sang original songs, which were written by contemporaries.  The lyricists would also accompany the musicians on guitar, and aim to feature music that had a poetic sense.

Cuban trovadores, have played an important part in the evolution of Cuban popular music. 

Later, the Nueva Trova movement combined traditional folk music with lyrics on socialism, injustice, sexism, colonialism, racism and similar 'serious' issues.

Influences and popular musicians: 

Nueva Trova music had great influence on the Cuban society. Those songs also had a romantic vibe, for which another sub-genre or  movement emerged in the late 1940s to the early 1960s. Pablo Milanés, one of the pioneering singers of the "Nueva Trova movement", was a   filín or romantic singer. 

Silvio Rodríguez, Noel Nicola, Lázaro García, and Augusto Blanca were also notable singers of the movement among others. 

In a report published in the Washington Post, Milanés has been referred to as the "Bob Dylan of Cuba."

The creators of the movement combined British rock, Brazilian bossa nova, Spanish pop music, and some elements of Latin American folklore in their music. 

Around the same time, similar to the rise of Nueva Trova, similar musical genres across the world were increasing in popularity as part of a roots revival; these involved the popularization of traditional music which were associated with socio-political lyrics. 

At that time, Puerto Rican singers Roy Brown, Andrés Jiménez, Antonio Cabán Vale, and the group Haciendo Punto en Otro Son also gained fame. 

Characteristics of the movement

Although "new songs" were inspired by American protest artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, Nueva Trova criticized the US foreign policy and their aggression towards Latin American countries. 

On the other hand, The Beatles, Chilean revivalist Violeta Parra, Uruguayan singer-songwriter Daniel Viglietti, and the Catalan protest singer Joan Manuel Serrat also influenced the movement and its singers. 

By the time the fall of the Soviet Union came about, Nueva Trova started to fade. Lyrics of those songs, which had felt relevant in the 1960s and 1970s, became redundant and irrelevant. However, the movement had reminded the world again about the profound role that music can play in the socio-political of any country, and in elevating its identity to new heights in front of the world.